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Bull Riding - The truth on animal welfare

Updated on August 8, 2015

The Cowboys Prayer

A prayer said by some cowboys before they ride.
A prayer said by some cowboys before they ride. | Source

The bucking bulls used in bullriding events are often refered to as 'elite athletes' and for good reason, they are. The bulls used are of a high grade and often come at a hefty price, some being worth over half a million dollars. The time and effort put in to create an animal with the capabilities of these beasts is credit to the hardworking men and women that have made bullriding into the incredible sport it is today. So why would these people mistreat their bulls if they do such an impressive job , the answer is very simple, THEY DONT. The bulls in this sport are looked after extremely well and I know this because I have witnessed and assisted in the safe and quality treatment of these bulls at the rodeos they attend. No the bulls cannot tell you if they are happy but it is clear to see that these bulls are being well fed and watered and looked after to a very high standard. There is also a full set of rules regarding to animal welfare in rodeos.

Now we move to the main issues, the main points made by people against this fantastic sport. I accept that there is alot of diffrent opinions and points made surrounding the mistreatment of bulls and I am not trying to imply that you are not entitled too your own opinion I am simply sharing mine from my personal experiance from my time in the rodeo scene. There are a few main points to this arguement and I will explain each one from my perspective of being at these events and seeing first hand how these animals are treated. From what I have read of people against bullriding the three most common points I have heard are 1) the metal spurs are sharp and are hurting the animal 2) The flank strap is too tight and will hurt the bull. 3) An electric prod is used to make the bulls buck.

The metal spurs worn by riders hurt the bull by cutting into the skin. The fair majority of arguements against bullriding include something not too desimilar to this sentence. This however is a long way from the truth. All spurs that are worn by the cowboys must be ground down too avoid having sharp edges sticking into the animal and causing pain or discomfort. Also the skin of a bull is roughly 10 times stronger than that of a human and therefore by first testing the sharpness of the spur on the palm of your hand to see if it will cause damage to your skin, if it does then the spurs are too sharp and will need to be ground down more untill they can be dragged across the palm without causing damage. The spurs are usually ground down by being rubbed on a rough surface such as concrete. This is standard Practice for cowboys too ensure they are not causing damage to the bulls. If the spur does not do damage too a human hand it is certainly safe for use on a bull.

The second opinion that I read quite often is that the flank strap tied around the bull, between its middle and hind quaters, is too tight and cuts the bull or can do damage to the genitalia of the animal. I have seen and personally placed plenty of these on bulls. They do not cause the bull any pain or dicomfort during the ride. They are not tied on tight and are there too serve as nothing more than an encouragement to make the animal want to extend its back legs and make for a better bucking action. They do not cause cuts to the animals and do not at all effect the bulls genitalia.

The third point is of people saying that an Electric prod is used to make the bulls buck as they exit the chute. This is absolutely false. These bulls are the show stars of the rodeo world and electrocuting them is far from the minds of the men and women of the sport. The animals used in this sport are born and trained to buck the only thing used to encourage a better bucking action is the flank strap which i have already described is not hindering or causimg any pain to the animal. This type of behaviour would not be tolerated at a rodeo or bullriding event and it does not happen.

Quite simply the point I am trying to get across is that bullriding is not the terrible cruel sport it is being made out to be. Infact, quite the opposite, bullriding is an exhilarating sport and one that i am 100% sure if you get involved in, or even just attend an event, you will very quickly see for yourself just how well these elite athletes really are treated. Of course if you have any questions on how the animals are treated you can talk to anyone at the rodeo and they will be happy to show you around so you can witness first hand the truth about bullriding.

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